Award-winning top chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc puts nine couples through their paces to see if they have what it takes to run their own restaurant in a brand new television event for BBC Two.
Incredibly, more than 1,000 new restaurants open every year in Britain; unfortunately, approximately 50 per cent close within two years.
The Restaurant features couples, some of whom have little or no experience other than cooking at home and throwing dinner parties, but whose dream is to run their own eatery.
They have to create their perfect restaurant and then open the doors to the paying public. Their first crucial decision – who will take on the kitchen and who is best equipped to run the front of house?
It’s a dream that many couples have entertained. Secretly perhaps we all think we could run a restaurant.
It’s so simple. Lots of us can cook. We have all been to restaurants. We all think we know what people like to eat. If only we had the money and the opportunity.
For one couple this programme will realise that dream.
Says Raymond: “It is a life changing decision to take part in this programme – it is not just a game. They are making many sacrifices without even knowing if they are going to win.”
During the eight-week series every decision, every mistake the couples make, every argument they have, will be caught on camera. They are working and living together 24-hours a day, under enormous pressure.
Each of the nine couples takes over an empty restaurant, makes it their own and will open their doors to the paying public.
Every week each restaurant is visited by Raymond’s panel of “inspectors” – restaurant industry experts Lee Cash, Sarah Willingham and John Lederer.
Raymond will then select the three restaurants he judges to be the worst performing. One of these restaurants will be closed at the end of the week.
The three selected restaurants are given a tough specific challenge. They must prove in this challenge that they are good enough to stay open.
Each week, one of the restaurants will be eliminated from the competition by Raymond, acting as judge and advised by his panel. The restaurant that fails the challenge will have its doors shut. Raymond’s decision is the one that counts.
By the end of the series just one couple and one restaurant will be left open. The winning couple will be able to run their own restaurant financially backed and personally supported by Raymond Blanc. Raymond is investing a six figure sum in the new business.
The show is a brutal insight into the business of running a restaurant and the incredible pressure of living and working with your partner.
Competing for the top prize are Martin, a prison caterer and his fiancé Emma who works in a bingo hall; Jeremy, a chef in the Royal Marines and his wife Jane; Lloyd and Adwoa, an engaged couple who run market stalls selling food; jazz drummer Sam and his wife Jacqui, an actress/waitress; Eddie and his older brother Michael, a communications consultant; advertising copywriter Grant and his wife Laura; sisters and children’s entertainers Jess and Laura; Nicola, a home cook and successful businesswoman, and her son Tom; and mature university students Chris and his partner Jade.
Says Raymond: “Opening a restaurant is one of the most popular start up businesses, everyone thinks they can do it. Likewise, our couples also think they know how to run a restaurant business, but most of them will soon realise how complex and tough it is.
“These inexperienced couples will be thrown in at the deep end as they go into an empty restaurant and in one week must open to the public; so they will have to learn fast.”
The series is an uncompromising, but entertaining, insight into the business of restaurant management, bringing with it the incredible pressure of living and working with a partner, learning how to cook, managing staff and a reminder that the customer is always right.